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Vietnamese Naval Battles (Vietnam War and other conflicts)

Soviet cogitations: 318
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 17 Dec 2017, 12:33
Vietnam is currently (2018) one of the four official communist nations existing, the foundation of the modern country is rooted with long bloody battle for independence and national reunification spanning decades during the peak of the Cold War.
Since the establishment of the first form of independent state as consequences of the anti-Japanese struggle during the WWII, the Vietnamese people found a way to struggle on sea, scoring early victories against the French colonial power. The brutal French occupation of the country witnessed also a massacre committed by naval firepower in 1946 (see text for details), obscured and ignored by the western literature.

During the years of the independence struggle from France, the Vietnamese could test the very first successful frogmen attacks with explosive and limpet mines: this kind of warfare reached a peak during the subsequent fight against the Americans and the southern puppet-state. No other communist or socialist nation scored such result with this kind of naval warfare (Egyptians successes were limited, and the similar campaign in Bangladesh while strategically important focused mostly on merchant fleet).
Another unique feature of the Vietnam Navy was the blockade-running operations during the struggle against the Americans: while a number of vessels were lost, their activity greatly supported the National Liberation Front in the South. CIA attempted a campaign of infiltrations, sabotages and assassinations with speedboats shortly before the conflict, but despite some American claims, it appears the actual effect of the operations (as similar CIA operations waged at the same time on other communist or socialist nations) failed due effective infiltration of intelligence agents and gross miscalculations.
The long years of struggle against the US invaders and the southern puppet’s government saw countless massacres committed by the latter: in addition to committing direct killings against the civilian population, the US forces also employed notorious South Korean troops to terrorize the countryside and prevent the people’s support to the NLF. Terrorist US air-bombing, purposely aiming at “military assets” but de-facto levelling inhabited areas of Hanoi and other northern cities, in addition to the growing unpopularity of the southern regime, the growing losses and the American civilian discontent brought to the US retreat from the country. The quick liberation of South in 1975, with the rapid destruction of the puppet Army, marked the end of one of the bloodiest conflict of Cold War with the full unification of the nation under communist rule.

NOTE: This work does not cover riverine warfare! (Excluding few episodes of larger ships attacked by NLF in rivers, or some amphibious ships of the Southern Navy).
Both the US and the South Vietnamese Navy employed a massive “Brown water” flotilla with specially designed small armored boats, monitors or transport boats.
These vessels sunk, seized or destroyed numerous NLF unarmed riverine small wooden crafts. Many civilian vessels also destroyed (and owners killed) out of suspicions, to prevent possible NLF use, or just as deliberate “kills-count claim” (these actions usually moved local civilians to support NLF rather than blaming their brothers for causing the attacks, as sometimes described by US narrative). NLF forces also inflicted losses to US riverine crafts (including two LCU landing crafts): usually with simple strafing or RPG-fire from shore, but on sporadic occasions also with floating mines and sabotages. Records of the South Vietnamese “brown water” units are lost due war’s end, reasonably including higher losses than the Americans, with the entire flotilla eventually sunk, scuttled or seized in 1975.

Another rich, albeit still poorly known, glorious page of the Vietnam Navy history was the confrontation with the Kampuchea: in late ‘70s. The sinking of multiple enemy vessels with gunfire can be assessed as one of the very last historical occurrence of all-gunnery naval battle between groups of warships.

Nowadays (2018) the Vietnamese Navy, thanks the general economy boost of Vietnam is growing in numbers and capabilities and become the strongest Navy in the South-East Asia with modern Russian-built Submarine and Frigates. Naval border disputes with China is a key reason for such naval expansion.
Interestingly, the separate branch of the Vietnamese Coast Guard scored successes against modern 21st century piracy (officially, Vietnam was the first ever-communist nation to score similar successes: anticipating by few years the Chinese successes against Somali pirates).

Sources include a collection of Vietnamese articles, press release and data from Vietnamese books on local forums over the Navy and naval activities, also the magnificent work done by (c)Alexander Rosin on the russian blog
Vietnamese sources include Vietnamese Wikipedia, and, the Vietnamese book “History of the Vietnam People’s Navy” published in 2015 by the Naval Command (multiple authors).
Interestingly, all these sources include data concerning fights in Cambodia and detailed list of Vietnamese losses.
Multiple western sources (including the usually very good Navypedia, at least until 2018) have little to no actual detailed list of Vietnamese naval losses.

NOTE on nomenclature!
The text do not use the pro-American and incorrect terms “North Vietnam” or “North Vietnamese Navy” to indicate the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Navy. To avoid confusion with the southern puppet government Navy, this text use one of the common translation of “Vietnamese People’s Navy” (or “Vietnam’s People Navy”) shortened as “VPN” in a similar way for the pages of Chinese Naval Battles and DPRK Naval battles. It must stressed that (in similar Soviet tradition) there was no use of “naval prefix”.



2 September 1945
Official proclamation of Democratic Republic of Vietnam

8 September 1945
French Navy used locally acquired motor-junks as auxiliary patrol boats: patrol boat Crayssac (armed with 1 37mm gun and machine guns) operated close shore to support local anti-communist forces. Viet Minh dispatched two auxiliary armed boats: Bach Dang and Giao Chi, alongside ground troops (a platoon with a gun) using some canoes, surrounded and capturing Crayssac. 10 POWs, including an American officer (presence of an American officer not confirmed by all sources). French commander later executed. Some Vietnamese sailors later joined the Viet Minh. Vietnamese forces quickly renamed the captured ship as “Ky Con”.

11 September 1945
After some days of having no news from the missing boat, French Navy dispatched a second auxiliary patrol boat, L’Audacieuse, looking for the Crayssac. However, the same Ky Con (ex-Crayssac) confronted her, allegedly forcing crew to scuttle her to avoid the imminent seizure. 8 crewmembers of L’Audacieuse become POWs. Contrary to the French claim, Vietnamese sources indicated that French commander threw overboard some weapons and documents but could not scuttled the ship: Ky Con seized and brought her to harbor.

13-14 November 1945
Battle of Co To Island
Vietnamese forces dispatched a force of fighters on two landing crafts (converted junks) for an amphibious landing on Co To Island.
Despite suffering losses, the attacking party managed to seize a temple and burn a depot, however the French forces sunk the two landing crafts preventing the retreat.
Blocked on the island, the group kept fighting until 18 November. There were 24 KIA and 22 POW (two executed, other 5 died in prison): seven men were killed during the landing, while a single fighter was successfully extracted from the island on a boat on the morning of 15 November.

2 July 1946
Norwegian merchant Agnes (1311 GRT) (general cargo) sunk by mine in Haiphong river. 15 crewmembers died.
NOTE: it is unclear if the ship sunk after old WW2 mine or it was related to the growing tensions between the French and Vietnamese tensions.

20 November 1946
French heavy cruiser Suffren seized a junk carrying supply.
Three days later, the same French ship shelled Haiphong city: it deliberately targeted civilian areas as intimidating act, killing (modern estimates) up 6000 civilians. The high number of casualties is indeed a modern-day western estimate! (Vietnamese sources of the time even spoke of 20.000 killed). Apparently, most of the shelling was not done by cruiser but by the avisos Chevreuil, Savorgnan de Brazza and Dumont D’Urville. Some western authors attempted to further downplay the massacre, stating also the French Navy allegedly hit “military targets only”, without considering how absolutely imprecise could be naval bombardment with WW2-era ships. It is also an unproved claim, stating how de-facto Viet Minh did not possessed particularly expanded military hardware in the city (the Vietnamese administration was after all at its beginning), nor possessed a military industry, or a significant fleet.

The French heavy cruiser unleashed her 203mm fire against heavily populated areas.

28 May 1949
French minesweeper Glycine sunk by mine placed by Viet Minh fighters in Mekong river. 32 killed (only 1 survivor).

20 June 1949
French minesweeper Mysotis sunk by mine placed Viet Minh fighters in Mekong river. 29 killed.

Sister-hip Amarante: both Glycine and Mysotis were former American minesweepers of YMS class

17 May 1951
French landing ship Adour exploded at Nha Trang on the beach. 24 sailors and 54 soldiers died.
Later raised and recovered. She was a former American LST type.


30 January 1960
The Vietnamese People’s Navy attempted the very first naval mission to supply the NLF in South Vietnam using a single unnamed sailing boat: however, the ship was small and due rough sea she capsized and lost close Ly Son Island. Local fishing boats contacted South Vietnamese patrol boats that recovered from sea the 6 sailors (only one survived prison and freed in 1974).
The small cargo of 5tons of ammunition and medical supplies thrown at sea before the capsizing to avoid the enemy discovering the operation.
Similar operations would resume only in 1962 with larger ships.

16 July 1961
VPN patrol boats T-120 and T-126 (both Type-55A class) involved in the operations with local forces against Kuomintang commandos aiming to infiltrate from Vietnamese beach into China from Dam Ha Beach area. During the operations, 9 canoes were seized. Other commando parties killed or captured on Vietnamese ground forces on 28 and 29 July.

23 October 1961
VPN patrol boats T-122 and T-126 (both Type-55A class) intercepted another group of Kuomintang commandos, seizing 3 canoes in Tra Co beach (at the very border with China).

14 January 1962
The CIA used the junk Nautilus-1 to land agents; a double agent successfully led the capture of all the agents and crew and seizure of the vessel by a North Vietnamese patrol boat . All prisoners were Vietnamese. It is unclear which Vietnamese People’s Navy boat took part at the seizure (almost surely a Type-55A class).

30 June 1962
Battle of Quang Khe.
CIA organized a raid on the naval base of Quang Khe: a team of 4 South Vietnamese special forces (trained in Taiwan) were landed by the junk Nautilus-2 and attacked three Chinese-built Type-55A patrol boats. T-185 was sunk and the attacking force paid a heavy price because the entire assault team was killed or captured alive (the operation failed due accidental early detonation of a limpet mine, killing a frogman). VPN patrol boat T-161 (another Type-55A) successfully intercepted and sunk Nautilus-2 with gunfire and ramming. Only one member of the assault team evaded death or capture, there were 10 prisoners. T-185 later raised, repaired and returned to service. T-161 awarded for the victory. Nautilus-2 remains the only enemy unit confirmed as sunk by Vietnamese People’s Navy into a direct naval clash.

Following CIA operations of agent insertions in the next years resulted in heavy losses of agents (once landed) due infiltration from double agents.
After the failures with the junks, they used Swift PTF patrol boats, hiring Norwegian mercenaries as commanders.
Operations included also psychological warfare and spreading fake news about a supposed resistance movement operating in northern Vietnam against the communist government.
CIA units often seized fishing boats (to indoctrinate the civilians) and then release them: once again, the operation brought no real result due infiltration from the Vietnamese intelligence.
An increase of operations in 1964 resulted in local material damages and victims in PAVN/VPN garrisons and military installations, Type-55A often attempted to intercept the PTF boats but failed due the superior enemy speed. Despite some American or South Vietnamese claims, no Vietnamese People’s Navy ever sunk by PTF attacks, most of clashes involved only brief exchange of fire.

11 October 1962
The first-ever naval shipping departed, on the wooden boat “Orient-1” successfully landing five days later 30 tons of cargo. The ship commander, Le Van Mot, was a sailor veteran from South Vietnam who smuggled weapons from Thailand to Vietnam during the independence war against France. His experience was of key importance for the subsequent establishment of the 125th Naval Brigade (Le Van Mot survived the war and was awarded post-mortem the title of Hero).

By the end of 1962, other three successful voyages (in addition to the first one in October), brought to Ca Mau Bay 111tons of weapons without being detected by enemy. All the other ships employed were wooded, except for "Binh Minh" that was however a riverine ship. From these early operations it was revealed the need for proper metal boats with larger capacity.

During 1963 in the first 6 months of the year, the newly reorganized “Group 759” accomplished 5 voyages, and during the last 6 months of the same year made other 18 voyages.
No interception occurred, for overall 1318tons of weapons and ammunition successfully carried South Vietnam.
The wooden blockade-runner n°41 however risked to be attacked by nearby South Vietnamese units but she successfully unloaded her cargo (18tons of weapons) after sailing into the Ray River, and departed to return north on 4 October. Other known blockade-runners were: n°43, n°54, n°55 and n°56 (all first class awards like n°41), and n°42, n°67 and n°68.

29 January 1964
Establishment of the 125th Naval Brigade: the formation was entirely focused on supplying the NLF in South Vietnam trough naval supplies, employing larger ships.

2 May 1964
A NLF commando achieved one of the most significant propaganda coup in naval warfare during the war. Frogmen attached a limpet mine to the American Aircraft carrier USNS Card. The blast temporarily sunk the ship, killing 5 Americans. While the sinking was only partial (and she was quickly refloated on 19 May, to be returned in service on December of the same year), and despite the fact the ship was an auxiliary carrier, the achievement gained a quite resounding local propaganda coup for the NLF. Interestingly, NLF commandos previously attempted to attack USNS Core (sister ship) but explosives failed to detonate.
Photo of the ship.

30 July 1964
CIA-led raid with the crafts PTF-2, PTF-3, PTF-5 and PTF-6 attempted a raid against Vietnamese coast: after random strafing, they retreated with damage on PTF-6 (4 WIA) being chased by patrol boat T-142 (a Type-55A). No actual damage reported on VPN side. The raid triggered a response from the Vietnamese People’s Navy that was on high alert for further intrusion, culminating in the subsequent Gulf of Tonkin Incident.

2 August 1964
Gulf of Tonkin Incident.
The famous incident that ignited the direct participation of USA in Vietnam War.
The destroyer USS Maddox was sailing on spy mission on the border of Vietnamese water after days of growing tensions and raid by CIA Special Forces on Vietnam’s territory. These attacks has been confirmed in recent time as deliberately attempted provocations on the American and South Vietnamese side to escalate the conflict.
3 motor torpedo boats of project123K (T-333, T-336 and T-339) were dispatched and the encounter resulted into a firefight. Torpedoes were launched but all missed the American ship, in the end USS Maddox suffered a single 14.5mm bullet hit from T-333. American fighters F-8 Crusader from carrier USS Ticonderoga also attacked the VPN boats rockets and 20mm fire, T-333 and T-336 suffered damages (4 KIA, 6 WIA), one F-8 Crusader damaged by defensive fire. Patrol ships T-142 and T-156 (both Type-55A) on sea did not engage. The whole engagement occurred inside the 12-nautical miles claimed by Vietnam as national waters (according the past French and the current Soviet and Chinese naval laws) . Two days later, Americans claimed a second naval engagement (never occurred) and deliberately lied about it to further enflame their public opinion.
Photo of one of the motor torpedo boat during the battle.

5 August 1964
A large air strike from the American aircraft carriers USS Ticonderoga and USS Constellation directed against multiple Vietnamese harbors as official retaliation for the Gulf of Tonkin Incident.
Americans claimed to have destroyed the 10% of the entire Vietnamese national petroleum storage, and sinking 8 armed boats (21 damaged). This claim is widely reported by American literature (sometimes inflated to “25 boats sunk/destroyed”, when direct military assessment downplayed it to 1-3 vessels sunk.
In reality, no Vietnamese People’s Navy sunk in action, but many suffered damages: submarine chasers T-225, T-231, motor torpedo boats T-336, patrol boats T-130, T-132 (commander KIA), T-146, T-161, T-167, T-181, T-187 (heavy casualties). Interestingly, T-130, T-132, T-146 and submarine chaser T-231 quickly repaired and returned to service in September 1964. The Air Raid in the end failed to inflict significant casualties to the Navy (other raids in 1965 caused far heavier losses, but this information is unknown to most of American literature).
Vietnamese sources officially claimed 8 planes shot down, even if the number is overestimated the Navy scored two confirmed anti-air victories.
During the raid in Hong Gay harbor, the A-4C Skyhawk (serial n°149578, VA-144 from carrier USS Constellation) (pilot Everett Alvarez Jr POW) shot down by submarine chaser T-227 and patrol boat T-134. Other vessels (submarine chaser T-225, patrol boats T-122, T-124, T-144) defended the harbor alongside AA batteries but the plane shot down during the attack run.
During the raid in Lach Truong Bay (north of Than Hoa) the A-1H Skyraider (serial n°139760, VA-145 from carrier USS Constellation) (pilot Richard C. Sather KIA) shot down by patrol boats T-130 and T-132.
Also motor torpedo boats T-333, T-336 and patrol boat T-146 sailed close (and Vietnamese sources praise T-146 with a claim), but it appears clear that the latter group suffered an attack by 5 A-4 and 3 F-4 (without American losses) while T-130 and T-132 attacked by 4 A-1 (including Sather’s plane).

28 November 1964
VPN blockade-runner C-401 after a difficult voyage and change of destination delivered her cargo of 33 tons of weapons in Vu Rong Bay before returning north.

November 1964 – February 1965
VPN blockade-runner C-41 accomplished 3 different supply missions at Vu Rong Bay: landing on 5 December (43.9 tons) , 31 December (46.7 tons including also 3tons of rice) and 9 February (45.9 tons)

Overall, since the establishment of the 125th Naval Brigade to February 1965, 20 different blockade-runners accomplished 88 missions carrying 4000tons of weapons (average of 45.4tons for mission).

30 January 1965
VPN patrol boats T-163 and T-171 (both Type-55A) report a clash with two enemy ships (almost surely PTF boats) at Quang Binh.

17 February 1965
VPN patrol boats T-124 and T-187 (both Type-55A) report a clash with two enemy ships (almost surely PTF boats) at Nghe An.

29 February 1965
VPN patrol boats T-126 (Type-55A) report a clash with an enemy ship (almost surely a PTF bot), claimed as damaged, at Quang Binh.

16 February 1965
Vu Rong Bay Incident
VPN blockade-runner C-143 attacked on beach by A-1 bomber while unloading cargo. Americans claimed hit but actually she was scuttled due manned detonation however the charge was not enough to fully destroy the wreck that simply split in to, allowing the Americans to seize a claimed 100tons of the cargo (weapons and ammunition). On ground a fierce fight erupted between NLF fighters and South Vietnamese soldiers landed by ships. This was the first enemy successful destruction of a VPN supply vessel. Americans and South-Vietnamese used the seized cargo as a propaganda tool to show the Vietnamese People’s Navy actions, however they inflated the numbers because actually C-143 carried 63,1 tons of cargo, and part of it was unloaded before the attack. The loss of C-143 temporarily halted all the blockade-runner operations until October 1965.

In March 1965 Vietnamese People’s Navy Special Forces frogmen commandos begun operating in South Vietnam for attacks on anchored ships with limpet mines and mines. Most damages inflicted during the war occurred in riverine operations and they are not reported here.

31 March 1965
An American A-1H Skyrider bomber (serial n°137584, VA-215 from carrier USS Hancock)(pilot: Gerald W. McKinely MIA) was lost on a mission in Quang Binh province while attacking a naval radar station. The Vietnamese account detail a heated day (culmination previous attacks of 2,5 and 24 March) with involvements of naval units in air-defense and claim off 5 aircrafts shot down. It is difficult to identify how the bomber was shot down, but most likely by ground AAA (24th naval company with 37mm).

22 April 1965
VPN patrol boats T-183, T-185 and T-187 attacked by enemy aircrafts. T-185 damaged with 4 KIA.

28 April 1965
VPN patrol boats T-161, T-163 and T-173 sunk by AD-6 and F-105 bombers in Song Gianh, while T-126, T-165 and T-175 damaged (all Type 55A).
High casualties: 37 KIA, 73 WIA. In term of casualties and damages, this was indeed the worst blow suffered by the Vietnamese People’s Navy during the entire War (not, as Americans believe, the 5/August/64 raid).

26 May 1965
VPN patrol boat T-136 hit in Lach Troung (Type 55A) sunk by air attack, 7 KIA. Ship received damages by air attack also 5 days earlier.

In July 1965 the Vietnamese People’s Navy employed the first decoy “dummy” ships in rivers and coastal area.
Such fake ships (often-simple wooden barges with wooden super-structure and fake guns), were used both defensively (to divert attacks on them rather real targets), or as traps in coordination with nearby pre-alerted AAA batteries.

31 August 1965
VPN patrol boat T-181 sunk in Ben Thuy (Type 55A) by air attack.

17 September 1965
During the night, VPN patrol boats T-140 and T-146 escorted the transport ship V-411 to deliver people and cargo to Bach Long Vi Island. A group of four A-6A Intruder bombers planned to bomb the island searching for patrol boats and they commenced the attack dropping flares (Vietnamese sailors identified only two planes). While gunners were temporarily blinded by the flares, as soon as they extinguished, they shot down one A-6A Intruder (serial n°151488, VA-75 from carrier USS Independence)(pilots Robert F.Barber and Leonard F.Vogt KIA). From the American account of the action, there was no knowledge of the presence of the important transport ship, and the mission aimed to simply search patrol boats: crewmembers also listed as KIA on 18 September, but the Vietnam Navy account indicate the attack occurred shortly before midnight.

15 October 1965
Blockade-runner C-42 departed for significant supply operation: among the cargo of 60tons, there were also four soviet-made limpet mines. NLF used the mines to damage the American cargo “SS Baton Rouge” on 23 August 1966, killing seven Americans. This was the first operation since the Vu Rong Bay incident; the Vietnamese People’s Navy prepared further training and concealing efforts for all the ships involved. American and South Vietnamese naval forces already established a naval blockade, but C-42 managed to penetrate it.

The success of C-42 convinced on few further missions until the end of the year: C-69 successfully delivered 60tons of weapons on November despite heavy enemy air presence on the way back north, however, on December C-100 failed on her mission and forced to sail back to north due excessive enemy air-ship naval presence without delivering the cargo. On the other hand C-68 (departed also in December) successfully carried 67tons of weapons.

26 October 1965
A group of American fighters searched for naval targets off Bach Long Vi Island. The fighter F-4B Phantom (serial n°151505, VF-88, Carrier USS Independence) (pilots Grover Erickson and John Perry saved) was shot down by anti-aircraft fire after a rocket attacks reportedly against VPN motor torpedo boats. So far it’s unclear which ships they attacked but the Vietnamese navy reported no boats lost or damaged after T-181 in August.

1 February 1966
American sources claim to have sunk one project-201 M submarine chasers with air attack. While some western sources describe how the Navy received up to 7 units (and lost all of them), actually Vietnam sources reveal how only 4 units were delivered (T-225, T-227, T-229 and T-231) and none lost in combat.

16 March 1966
Panama’s merchant Kettara IV (708 GRT) directed to Danang was shelled and sunk by PAVN artillery nearby the DMZ. All crew lost. Cargo of Cement and general cargo.

11 April 1966
VPN blockade-runner C-42 after successfully delivering 60tons of weapons in Ca Mau, was detected by the enemy blockade: ship avoided the enemy units and sailed back to north.

27 April 1966
An American bomber A-6A Intruder (serial n°151788, VA-85 from USS Kitty Hawk)(pilots: William R Westerman and Brian E Westin recovered) was attacking barges in the mouth of Song Ca River and was stuck by light fire possibly coming from the barges themselves. Plane crashed in the Gulf of Tonkin.

29 April 1966
An American fighter F-8E Crusader (serial n°150867, VFA-211 from USS Hancock)(pilot Thomas E. Brown, KIA) reportedly crashed while hitting a “karst” rock while making a strafing run against a naval target near Cong Dong Island. Vietnamese sources actually indicate how T-144 and T-146 (both Type55A) were on a mission to Cong Dong Island on 1 May and they claimed an American aircraft shot down and seems likely the two incidents are connected.
Possibly the aircraft suffered damages and then crashed on the rock or the pilot attempted to avoid the incoming fire.
Also T-229 and T-231 (both project201M) stationed at Hang Ma made two claims but this appears unrelated.

11 May 1966
VPN blockade-runner C-100 intercepted by USCGC Point Gray on 9 May, resulting into a ferocious fight. On day 11 May South Vietnamese aircrafts bombed the ship causing her explosion. Cargo was 62.6 tons of weapons and ammunition.

26 May 1966
Australian merchant Eastern Mariner (3155 GRT) sunk by mine in Saigon River. Wreck recovered in 1968and briefly renamed by Japanese company but ultimately scrapped. The ship served during WW2 as auxiliary minelayer for the Australian Navy. Details of the operations are unclear; possibly it was sunk by floating mine.

19 June 1966
VPN blockade-runner C-187 (62.6 tons of cargo) attacked by USS John A. Bole, USS Haverfield and USS Tortuga. While trying to evade them, she accidentally stranded: captain ordered scuttling but explosives did not worked and South Vietnamese seized C-187 intact with cargo. Of the 18 crewmembers, one was captured and the rest joined the NLF.

1 July 1966
VPN motor torpedo boats T-333, T-336, T-339 (the three units involved in Gulf of Tonkin incident) sunk by aircrafts while attempting the American destroyers USS Rogers and USS Coontz, the latter recovered from sea 19 sailors (later exchanged for American POWs).

7 July 1966
VPN patrol boats T-195, T-197, T-199, T-201 (all project 62) engaged for more than 1 hour against enemy aircrafts over Haiphong area. They claimed up 4 aircrafts shot down during a heavy anti-aircraft battle, but actually there are no confirmed American losses matching these claim.

23 August 1966
A NLF frogmen team used two of the four Soviet-made limpet mines (delivered by Blockade-runner C-42 the last year) to carry on a successful operation.
The American merchant Baton Rouge Victory (7612 GRT) (cargo of military trucks, tractors and general cargo) in Long Tau River, suffered heavily by the limpet mines explosion and 7 crewmembers died.
The wreck recovered but she was a total-loss and scrapped in 1967 in Taiwan.
Vietnamese sources describe clearly how it was a NLF unit to achieve the success, and it was not an external operation of the VPN.

1/2 October 1966
South Vietnamese landing ship RVNS Le Van Binh sunk by Vietnamese People’s Navy Special Forces of 126th Naval Commando Brigade with limpet mines. The ship not recovered. The attack was only one of the many successful attacks committed by the elite Brigade, however most of the activities involved against “Brown Navy” riverine targets and are not listed here. Former American LCS(L)(3)-10

27 November 1966
Another VPN failure with the blockade-running operations went unnoticed to the enemy.
C-41 reached after some troubles (due strong sea) the shore of Duc Pho with 59tons of cargo but could not deliver it in time. With presence of enemy vessels patrolling nearby waters and fearing an impending discover, commander decided to destroy the ship to prevent capture and discovery. When the self-detonation time appeared exhausted, two sailors walked closer the grounded ship to check the devices and at that moment, the ship exploded killing them. The rest of the crew joined nearby NLF forced and returned north.

On December 1966, also C-43A failed to penetrate the blockade and forced to sail back north.

1 January 1967
VPN blockade-runner C-69 (100tons) successfully unloaded 61tons of cargo on 21 April 1966 but later technical issues to propeller delayed her return to north. The loss of C-100 alerted the enemy forcing C-69 to hiding in mangroves for 6 months until a final attempt to go back home toward the end of the year. After being discovered by the South Vietnamese Navy on 31 December, a fight erupted the following day against 5 enemy ships. C-69 suffered 121 hits (of all size) forcing her to sail back. South Vietnam Navy claimed to have sunk her but actually C-69 went into hiding of the mangroves of Ca Mau until the end of the war. It appears clear how the ships engaged by the VPN ship were indeed the American PCF-71 (at first engaged alone, and suffered damage, 30 bullet holes and 4 3-inch holes), and then PCF-68 (suffering damage: 2 caliber 50 holes) and USCGC Point Gammon. Both the PCF American vessels suffered 3 WIA each. Some American reports at first claimed the target stranded or “exploded” without visual confirmation and the same American sources rather point how the ship could have escaped inside river because she was never found.
Prior April 1966, C-69 made 7 successful voyages to South Vietnam.

9 January 1967
The American large dredger Jamaica Bay sunk in the Mekong River, after the detonation caused by 2 explosive charges placed on the hull by NLF frogmen special commandos. 3 American sailors died, the wreck recovered in March but sunk on tow off Vung Tau and further attempts were abandoned. The attack deliberately planned to do slow-down the building of Dong Tam base.

15 March 1967
VPN blockade-runner C-43A was on mission to load 50tons of weapons when was intercepted by the US Navy. After 3 hours of fighting the ship was badly damaged and was scuttled. Between 1963 and 1967 the ship accomplished successfully 2 travels (first cargo was 50tons) while a third time was forced to return due enemy naval presence.

12 April 1967
British tanker Amastra (12273 GRT) suffered heavy damages in port after explosion due limpet mine. Attack committed by NLF frogmen unit, there were no casualties and ship later recovered.

14 July 1967
USS Wilhoite USS Gallup USS Walker PCF- 79 USCGC Point Orient intercepted VPN blockade-runner C-198 (100tons) with a cargo of 100tons and after a fight she was stranded. Captain prepare for the scuttling but he was killed by enemy fire alongside the political commissar and Americans managed to seize the ship defusing the self-explosion system.
The ship was carried to Da Nang where the local NLF committee was informed about the situation and with a team of saboteurs they managed to sunk in harbor the vessel. Some of the weapons recovered however were displayed as proof of Vietnam’s involvement and a fake ship was also put on display. C-198 successfully accomplished a voyage earlier that year.
Photo of C-198

On the same day, VPN motor torpedo boats T-343 sunk by air attack in Day River, T-346 damaged and sunk the next day while under tow. Details of the attacks are unclear, interestingly the Americans indicate the loss of a A-1H Skyrider fighter bomber (serial n°135288)(pilot Robin B.Cassell KIA) approximately in the area while attacking water crafts officially on day 15 (possibly attacking T-346 and being shot by reaction fire).

2 November 1967
An American bomber A-6A Intruder (serial n° 152629, VA-196 from USS Constellation)(pilots: Richard D. Morrow and James J. Wright KIA) was shot down while attacking a ferry at Kim Quan during a night attack. It is unknown how the aircraft was brought down, but seems more likely by ground AAA rather than weapons onboard the ferry.

Action of 1 March 1968
The most significant naval action involving VPN blockade-runners saw the coordinate attempt from four vessels to surpass the enemy naval blockade.
The four vessels involved were C-43B, C-56, C-165 and C-235: all attempting to land supplies during the Tet Offensive on different location of Vietnamese coast.
The exact identity of which ship was engaged by the Americans is unclear, except for C-56 (the only ship survived).
C-165 engaged by USCGC Winona and sunk in battle with direct hit suffered and explosion: the American vessel suffered minor damages and casualties (wounded) due debris and splinters from the same explosion of the VPN vessel.
C-235 was at first engaged by a South Vietnamese patrol boat, then augmented by American PCF boats: eventually PCF-47 scored direct hit (using 81mm mortar) and exploded the vessel: at least 14 KIA, ammunitions and weapons were recovered on the location of the sinking. While the Americans claimed direct hit, on Vietnamese People’s Navy account it is confirmed how the detonation was caused by self-explosion decided by Captain Nguyen Phan Vinh. Part of the crew managed to reach the shore swimming, but the captain and the mechanic were later found by South Vietnamese troops and killed in a firefight (Captain received post-mortem the title of Hero and a small island was renamed after him).
C-43B was engaged by USCGC Androscoggin: after an exchange of fire and arrival of other American vessels and helicopters, 81mm direct hits were scored by USCGC Point Welcome and the ship grounded. VPN sailors managed to scuttle the vessel after two attempts: the very explosion caused some damage to USCGC Point Welcome. Vietnamese People’s Navy sources describe the grounding as result of the fighting: 3 died on the ship and others wounded including captain and second-in-command.
The fourth vessel, C-56, was faced by USCGC Minnetonka but there was no direct naval clash and C-56 turned back without attempting to force the blockade.
C-56 successfully completed other 3 missions during the war (for a total of 109 tons of cargo unloaded).

13/14 March 1968
The loss of three ships at once was a critical hit, but the situation of the ground forces demanded a successful mission at any cost.
The 125th Naval Brigade hastily converted 12 vessels giving an extra disguise as fishing vessels for a repeated attempt: each ship was carrying about 24 tons of cargo. Differently from past operation, the mission was meant to be without return: crew was scheduled to return north by ground. Due the nature of the ships, they were not given an official “C-“ designation.
An attack by enemy aircrafts at first sunk 4 vessels, while the remaining 8 vessels continued their journey: a fifth vessel was later hit by naval fire and scuttled to prevent the enemy find proof the operation. The American Navy believed there was just this vessel on sea, engaged by USS Brister, USCGC Point Ellis, PCF-78 ( 11 bullet holes), and were unaware of the other vessels.
3 vessels intentionally grounded nearby Gio Linh, they were scuttled and the cargo was successfully unloaded. The other four vessels grounded themselves at Trieu Phong where the cargo was unloaded successfully. The operation took the lives of 19 sailors (of the 74 combined crewmembers) and successfully provided the needed cargo for the frontline (and balancing the enemy success scored on 1 March 1968).

During the Tet Offensive, the 126th Naval Commando Brigade (alongside NLF groups) was particularly active: many vessels part of the American and South-Vietnamese “Brown Water” riverine navies sunk or damaged by limpet mines or floating mines. Sometimes vessels were recovered, in other cases there are little fragmented record concerning minor local barges or ferries.

1 November 1968
American landing ship USS Westchester County, damaged by limpet mines with 26 KIA (later repaired and returned to service). Apparently, she was the largest US warship damaged by Vietnamese limpet mine after the USS Cole.

Photo of sister-ship USS Terrell County in 1959.

22 December 1968
British tanker Helisoma (12149 GRT) suffered heavy damages in port after explosion due limpet mine. Attack committed by NLF frogmen unit, there were no casualties and ship later recovered.
The attack followed the same pattern and outcome of the one against tanker Amastra in March 1967 (both attacked almost in the very same place, at Nha Trang harbor).

After the losses occurred, the Vietnamese People’s Navy re-organized the supply operation for NLF exploiting the area at the mouth of Gianh River liberated after the Tet Offensive. This operation (Code-name VT5), carried into northern Vietnamese waters, could avoid the enemy blockade and exploited the extended territory gained by NLF and PAVN after the victorious Siege of Khe Sanh and the Tet Offensive allowing the delivered supplies to reinforce directly the northern combat units. Only between November 1968 and January 1969, 125 missions delivered 21.373 tons of cargo.

After a long pause, on 17 October 1969 the 125th Division resumed operations in southern waters when blockade-runner C-154 successfully delivered 59tons of weapons and returned home on 31 October 1969.

1 March 1970
VPN blockade-runner C-41, after an earlier failed attempt in February, departed to successfully deliver 58tons of weapons (including anti-tank rockets and 12.7mm artillery). Ship returned home on 30 May.

After this early success, the Vietnamese People’s Navy organized other 14 voyages for the year. However only 4 Blockade-runners succeeded passing through the enemy patrols: C-54 (54 tons of cargo in June), C-154 (58 tons of cargo in September) and again C-54 (56 tons of cargo in October), finally C-121 for the first time used rubber boats to indirectly unload the cargo in October.

5 May 1970
Cambodian landing ship T-919 sunk by sabotage with an explosive mine. The operation carried out either by the notorious Vietnamese People’s Navy 126th Naval Commando Brigade or by local trained unit. The 126th Naval Commando Brigade is known to operate outside the Vietnamese border (both Laos and Cambodia) during the Vietnam War in coordination with the local communist insurgencies.
Former American LCU-1577: it is interesting that Americans did not passed the ship, but Royal Cambodian Navy seized it with force on 17 July 1968. At the time, King Sihanouk ruled Cambodia: a notorious pragmatist who attempted a neutral policy and socialist-friendly looks, for this reason he was ousted by a CIA-sponsored coup in 1970 (reasonably, replacing him with a more authoritarian regime only strengthened the leftist opposition).

30 July 1970
South Vietnamese landing ship RVNS Nguyen Van Tru sunk by Vietnamese People’s Navy Special Forces. The 126th Naval Commando Brigade and related sub-units sunk and damaged many other vessels in the “Brown Water” riverine conflicts. This was one of the rare losses of larger South Vietnamese naval vessels. Former American LCS(L)(3)-105

3 October 1970
South Vietnamese landing ship RVNS Le Trong Dam sunk by Vietnamese People’s Navy Special Forces. The 126th Naval Commando Brigade and related sub-units sunk and damaged many other vessels in the “Brown Water” riverine conflicts. This was one of the rare losses of larger South Vietnamese naval vessels Former American LCS(L)(3)-4. With her loss, by now the South Vietnamese Navy lost her third LCS(L) (Landing support ship) of the 7 available since the beginning of the conflict (one loss in 1966 and two in 1970).

21 November 1970
VPN blockade-runner C-176 (65 tons) surrounded by enemy ships and forced to beach on sand dune before being scuttled by setting fire. Previously the ship attempted 2 voyages the same year but failed each time to deliver supply due enemy presence. The loss prompted another temporary stop to the blockade-running operations.

10 February 1971
Vietnamese People’s Navy sources report about South Vietnamese PTF boats attacking fishing boats. A similar intrusion also observed on 12 February.

19-20 February 1971
Battle of Cua Hoi and Hon Gio Island
Four South-Vietnamese PTF patrol boats were on sea again, but this time Vietnamese People’s Navy used radars to detect them and directed multiple armed transport ship T-257 and T-268. Use of such ships instead than faster and smaller fight ship was due the already established superior speed of PTF against every VPN combat craft. After fishing boats reported being fired upon (South Vietnamese sources alleged they were only “observing Chinese merchants”), T-257 individually opened fire with 12.7, 14.5 and anti-tank rocket. Vietnamese People’s Navy sources claim to have directly sunk one vessel, and the following day crew of fishing boats recovered fragments and material from sea (this claim remain unconfirmed).
On day 20 February, it was the turn of armed transport VT-113 and VT-114, however due mistake VT-113 found herself alone attacking the enemy, she suffered damages with 2 KIA but the PTF fled. South Vietnamese sources wrongly claim to have engaged proper military vessels (they claim the sinking of one 123K motor torpedo boat, the damaging of one project062 patrol boat, one project055A patrol boat and two other project123K motor torpedo boats), but no unit of these classes was damaged or lost on these days.
South Vietnamese sources admit 1 KIA on the group of PTF boats.
While the skirmish was ultimately poor of results, Vietnamese People’s Navy successfully prevented further raids on fishing boats.

Photo of one American "Nasty" boat, of Norwegian design.

On the first months of 1971, the 125th Division dispatched four different blockade-runners: C-49, C-54, C-56 and C-69 (not to be confused with the ship operating in 1967), all of them forced to sail back north without delivering the cargo.

5 April 1972
VPN blockade-runner C-69 attempted a second time to deliver a cargo but was intercepted nearby Bac Lieu by enemy ships and engaged in combat (suffering 6 KIA), until the commander ordered to scuttle the ship and survivors reached the shore. She was not the same ship engaged in 1967 and trapped inland until the end of the war. Apparently, the loss match with a Cambodian claim made by their own navy, it is currently unclear but it is possible that while chased by South Vietnamese vessels, C-69 strayed into Cambodian waters.

16 April 1972
VPN patrol boat T-213 (project 062) suffered from splinters during an air attack in harbor, commander wounded. During the same attack in the Haiphong harbor, the ground AAA and the patrol boats T-215, T-219 (both type 062), T-229 (project201M) and T-130 (type55A) collectively shot down the bomber F-105G Thunderchief (serial 63-8342, 17th Tactical Fighter Squadron)(pilots: Alan P.Mateja, Orvin C.Jones, both declared MIA). American sources indicate both pilots as MIA with allegations of capture, but the Vietnam Navy account make no reference of captured pilots.

19 April 1972
Battle of Dong Hoi
A group of American ships was shelling Vietnamese targets alongside the border zone: they were cruiser USS Oklahoma City and USS Sterett, destroyer USS Lloyd Thomas and frigate USS Highbee. To stop this attack, for the first time it was dispatched a pair of MiG-17 fighter jets (pilots Le Xuan Di and Nguyen Van Bay). USS Highbee suffered a direct hit (scored by Le Xuan Di) from a 250kg bomb that destroyed a gun turret (4 WIA, there were no other casualties because the turret has been previously evacuated), cruiser USS Oklahoma City minor damage on stern due near-miss by the other attacking fighter (pilot Nguyen Van Bay). The attack successfully forced the Americans to a more prudent naval use, marking an end for daylight raids by their Navy. American sources claimed to have shot-down a (not-existing) third MiG-17, plus another “probable” shooting down, additionally they believed to have been attacked by a combined air-naval attack force: an anti-ship naval missile P-15 Termit was claimed as intercepted, and later USS Sterett claimed to have sunk a couple of attacking motor torpedo boat. In reality, the Vietnamese People’s Navy was not involved at all in the battle and the American overclaims are probably the result of the commonly happened misidentification or deliberate claims to counter-balance the damages. The Vietnamese People’s Navy received her first four missile boats (project183R) only in December 1972.
The MiG-17 manned by Nguyen Van Bay. he was an Ace having scored 5 confirmed air-to-air victories (7 claimed)

Since 9 May 1972, the American forces begun an active campaign of aerial mine-laying of harbors and coasts of northern Vietnam with the aim to further blockade the nation. The Vietnamese People’s Navy organized every available vessel for minesweeping duties, destroying hundreds of mines during the whole year.
While the campaign successfully blocked some ships into northern Vietnam and prevented others to reach the country, the political outcome only advantaged the Vietnamese. No ship was lost due the successful minesweeping; however, in August 1972 the minesweeper V-412 suffered damages and one sailor MIA.

10 July 1972
British merchant London Statesman (10892 GRT) (cargo of rice) damaged by flooding in harbor, after sabotage in the engine room. Ship later recovered and returned to service.

27 August 1972
USS Newport News, USS Providence and USS Robison bombed ground target in northern Vietnam at Haiphong Harbor (focusing at radar-sites).
VPN motor torpedo boats attempted to attack the American formation and USS Rowan damaged and set afire two of them, with aircrafts from the carrier USS Coral Sea finishing them: this is confirmed by Vietnamese sources, with T-319 and T-349 (both of 123K class) lost in action. The attack is likely the very last classic MTB-attack committed in naval warfare against a larger target!

Photo of american cruiser USS Newport News in 1957

19 December 1972
VPN missile boat T-906 (Project 183R) sunk in Ha Long, by air attack in coincidence with the “Operation Linebacker-II” (a massive bombing operation that due losses and high civilian casualties backfired on the US administration due the international protests). She was the only missile boat lost by Vietnamese People’s Navy during the conflict, despite some American claim the much-feared “Termit” missiles was never fired in combat operation during the war. That same day, the Americans lost an A-6A Intruder bomber (serial n° 155594, VA-196, carrier USS Enterprise)(pilots Gordon R. Nakagawa and Kenneth H. Higdon POW) while attacking ships in Haiphong harbor but it appears unrelated to the attack on missile boat and there is no clear claim by Vietnamese naval units.

17 July 1973
American destroyer USS Warrington was damaged beyond repair when she struck two aerial-dropped mines, previously laid by Americans to blockade the Vietnamese harbor of Dong Hai on 9 May 1972 (no ship was sunk but the harbor has been temporarily blocked). Ironically, the Americans were forced by the Paris Peace Accord to sweep the fields between February and July 1973 (2 helicopters were lost during the minesweeping operations).
The USS Warrington was effectively the largest American military ship lost during the war.

The Paris Accords, while officially pulling out the USA from the conflict saw no actual end to the war. While the PAVN and NLF prepared for the final offensive in 1975, on 1974 operations of NLF and sabotages kept on: on unclear dates, the South Vietnamese Navy lost two landing ships: RVNS Long Dao and RVNS Than Tien, likely by direct actions of 126th Naval Commando Brigade or by NLF units trained by them. The South Vietnamese Navy operated 5 LCI(L) units before the two losses in 1974.

Photo of Long Dao (ex-LCI(L)698) before her sinking.

4 April 1975
During the final offensive in South Vietnam, it was decided to liberate all the Vietnamese islands in the East Sea (South China Sea). Possessing no proper landing ship, it was once again dispatched the 125th Naval Brigade: a naval special force composed by the transport ships T-673, T-674 and T-675. No escort of military ship was provided to exploit secrecy and operating undetected, despite the heavy South Vietnamese naval force.

13 April 1975
Landing at Song Tu Tay Island.
The three transport ships T-673, T-674 and T-675 successfully landed troops on the island, taking by surprised the South Vietnamese garrison that surrendered with little resistance: enemy suffered 6 KIA and 33 POW. Two days before the landing, American helicopters observed the ships but wrongly believed they were civilian trawlers from Hong Kong. South Vietnamese forces planned a counter-attack with transport HQ-402 and frigate RVNS Ly Thoung Kiet, but they were diverted to attempt defending Dao Nam Yet Island.
T-641 sailed back to the mainland to land the enemy prisoners.
Ironically, Song Tu Tay Island was previously controlled by Philippines before 1975: despite being allied in War, South Vietnam managed to “conquer” the island luring the Philippines garrison during a birthday party on another island offering prostitutes (!!): once the Philippine soldiers were back, South Vietnam had taken over the garrison.

25 April 1975
Landing at Son Ca Island
Having lost the element of surprise to attack Dao Nam Yet Island (heavily defended) the VPN transport ships T-641 and T-673 directed to Son Ca Island. After a successful landing, the local enemy garrison was quickly defeated (suffering 2 KIA an 23 WIA). As consequence of this loss, South Vietnam retreated from Dao Nam Yet Island and Sinh Ton Island: VPN ships landed on the abandoned islands on 27 and 28 April, thus completing the liberation of the Spratly Islands (Quan Dao Truong Sa).

27 April 1975
Battle of Phu Quy Island.
Phu Quy Island is located closer the Vietnamese coast and differently from the previous landing operation, the PAVN forces had to face a stronger garrison of soldiers and armed militia. However the South Vietnamese Navy had dispatched only the corvette RVNS Chi Linh to defend the island and during a naval clash with transport ship T-643 of the 125th Naval Brigade, the enemy ship suffered damage and was forced to retreat (escaping to Philippines, after no reinforcements arrived). After heavy fighting into the island, the remained South Vietnamese forces surrendered (382 POW, unclear number of KIA). There are little details of the ship-to-ship fighting, the transport was armed with only 12.7mm but crew also had RPG rockets, that likely constituted an advantage also in term of psychological effect.
Sister-ship HQ-10 Nut Thao, HQ-11 Chi Linh was former USS Shelter Admirable-class minesweeper.

1-5 May 1975
Con Dao Archipelago uprising.
Con Dao Island (larger island of the Archipelago) was a significant South Vietnamese garrison, and the airfield proved to be important during the evacuation phase of the enemy forces from Vietnam. However the island was also important for the presence of a prison, where 7000 political and military prisoners were detained (including 500 women). Encouraged by the news from the mainland, the prisoners staged a successful uprising (on the Labor’s Day), taking weapons and ammunitions from their guards and organizing attacks on the key points of the island. During the battle, the South Vietnamese forces often escaped or panicked, providing undisciplined defense due the loss of morale. In one day the prisoners took control of the island, seizing also 27 aircrafts from the airfield and capturing the enemies who did not escaped.
After having successfully established communication with the mainland, the prisoners (after establishing a Provisional Committee) prepared to defends the island for a possible enemy counter-attack. On 5 May 1975 it was VPN transport ships (T-574 and T-683) that landed and in the following day the mixed regular units and armed prisoners coordinated to establish control of the nearby smaller islands of the Archipelago without facing enemy presence.
Soviet cogitations: 3
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Nov 2017, 01:00
New Comrade (Say hi & be nice to me!)
Post 23 Dec 2017, 22:16

24 May 1975
Vietnamese transports T-643 and T-657 made a landing and re-captured Tho Chu Island: Kampuchea previously seized the island.
Despite having fought side-by-side until short time, the newly formed Kampuchea (Cambodia) under Khmer Rouge rule directly opposed Vietnam due allegiance with China over Soviet Union.
Operations to liberate the island concluded in two days. Vietnamese captured many prisoners, weapons and boats used to land the invading force.

5 June 1975
Vietnamese transports T-643 and T-647 made a landing to recapture larger the larger Pho Quoc Island, augmented by two LCM-8 type landing boats and escorted by 3 PCF boats.
Eventually also two Vietnamese Project062 gunboats joined the operations.
Kampuchea previously landed on the island using LSM ship and with support of 3 PCF boats.
This time the fight against Kampucheans lasted until 13 June.
During the operations, Vietnamese forces suffered 4 KIA and 14 WIA, capturing the Kampuchean garrison.
At some point, transport ship T-657 encountered an enemy motorboat (likely not a PCF but a smaller unarmed boat) and sunk her with gunfire.

31 August 1977
Two Kampuchean vessels (either “Swift” or aux. patrol boat) sunk one Vietnamese fishing boat.

1 April 1978
A Vietnamese warship sunk two boats of the Kampuchean Navy northeast of Hon Doc Island (“Swift” class or aux. patrol boat).

8 September 1978
Two Vietnamese warships sunk two boats of the Kampuchean Navy close Hon Doc Island (“Swift” class or aux. patrol boat).

One of biggest mysteries of the Kampuchean Navy it’s the amount of support and ships transferred from the People’s Republic of China before the downfall of the Khmer Rouge government.
While some western sources keep silent of this due lack of their own data and knowledge of this transfer, some traces can be found in Russian evaluation, scant details of Chinese admission and the (likely inflated) data from Vietnamese.
According the Chinese sources, plans were agreed in May 1976 and included the delivery of four large patrol vessels of Type037, 10 patrol boats of type 062, 12 motor torpedo boats of type 026 (and transfer of 48 torpedoes), one 80-tons minesweeper, one 300-tons tanker. All patrol boats and motor torpedo boats planned for delivery between 1977 and 1978.
According own Chinese sources, plans could not be properly completed: between 1975 and 1977 the Kampuchean Navy received only four Type 062 patrol boats and two unidentified “800 tons fast ships” (note: the size of these undefined vessels is the double of the type037 patrol ships! It is possible they were just large trawlers or small cargo vessels intended for not-military purpose).
On the other hand, Vietnamese sources assessed in January 1979 the Kampuchean Navy as composed by following vessels:
10 Type 062 patrol vessels, 10 Type26 motor torpedo boats, between 10 and 16 “Swift” class patrol boats (NOTE: at real there were likely between 9 and 14 survived “Swift” boats), two unspecified “anti-submarine ships” (possibly a misidentification) and a number of small fast boats.

6 – 7 January 1979
Battle of Ream
The key naval battle of the conflict, usually unreported by Western sources and press, was indeed an active gunnery fight; it was also likely the very last all-gunfire naval battle of history between two combat fleets of significant size! Indeed the battle occurred after the Battle of Paracels Island (often reported as the last all-gunfire naval battle), while the Battle of Chigua Reef occurred in 1988 can be hardly classified as an equal naval battle between two fleets. The subsequent description of battle follow the Vietnamese view, due lack of direct Cambodian sources, but due realistic losses of Kampuchean Navy, the report is likely!

The Vietnamese People’s Navy deployed a task force with the purpose to block or lure in battle the Kampuchean Fleet and allow the amphibious landing of troops on different location.
Interestingly, the Vietnamese People’s Navy made heavy use of former American vessels: the frigates HQ-01 and HQ-03, the corvettes HQ-05 and HQ-07 and the patrol boat T-613 (a former PGM-39 patrol boat), in addition to the following Project062 patrol boats: T-197, T-199, T-203, T-205 and T-215.
There is no Kampuchea record of the battle, but given the near-total destruction of the Fleet, it is likely Vietnamese claim match reality.
The first engagement saw T-203 and T-215 sinking two unidentified Kampuchean vessels and damaging a third one.

Photo of the American patrol ship USS PGM-63 on trial: lead-ship of her class including the boat captured by North Vietnam and renamed T-613

After midnight, the Kampucheans attempted a sortie from Ream harbor with five vessels they engaged the corvettes HQ-05 and HQ-07 that sunk an unidentified vessel and damaged a second one. Both Vietnamese ships suffered light damages, while also T-613 suffered heavy damages and forced to retreat. Identity of Kampuchea vessels is unclear.
Vietnamese identify them as Type026 motor torpedo boats, but their delivery is denied by China (this denial is of course unconfirmed nor confirmed by neutral source), so they could also have been PCF “Swift” boats (5 units were lost between 1976 and 1979: identity of 5 losses of the Kampuchean Navy between 1976 and 1978 it is unclear).

Four Kampuchea Type062 patrol boats made another attack, believing to have heavily damaged the corvettes and aiming to finish them, however the Vietnamese organized a combat line to exploit the longer rage of their stronger artillery, while T-203 and T-215 fought on closer rank: T-197 and T-205 joined them, while corvettes HQ-05 and HQ-07 covered them. At some point the combat lines become so confused that corvettes had to halt fire to avoid friendly-fire hits (like also because both Kampuchean and Vietnamese used the same class of units: the Type062), while HQ-01 joined the combat. During the close-quarter fight, T-197 and T-205 attempted to finish a damaged unidentified Type062, however forced to pullback due enemy fire.
Kampuchea shore-artillery helped their ships, targeting HQ-05 and HQ-07 and forcing them to turn south. At the same time HQ-05 was further attacked by four Kampuchean units and was saved only by T-203 and T-215 that damaged two unidentified attacking units. T-215 however suffered direct hits with 37mm and 25mm, with 4 sailors KIA (including captain) and 6 WIA: she was saved by T-205 while the rest of Kampuchean units retreated under the combined Vietnamese fight.
Photo of South Vietnamese corvette HQ-10, she sunk in battle against the Chinese Navy. The HQ-05 was former South Vietnamese sister-ship HQ-09, ex-USS Sentry. The Vietnam People's Navy made large use of former South Vietnamese sailors to operate the American-made warships captured in 1975.

At the end of the battle, Vietnamese forces successfully blocked the Kampuchea Navy to prevent raids on the amphibious landing, at the cost of (at least) 2 patrol boats heavily damaged, and 2 corvettes lightly damaged, Kampuchean units lost an estimated amount of 3 unidentified units while other 5 suffered damages.

10 January 1979
While approaching the harbor of Ream (after the end of the naval battle), The Vietnamese patrol boats PCF T-102 and T-107 came under fire from harbor. T-107 suffered 2 hits with 1 KIA and 6 WIA.
It appears the fire come from two unidentified Kampuchean ships, however they suffered a reaction combined fire from HQ-01,HQ-03, T-203, T-205, T-197 and T-199 and sunk.
Currently it is unclear the identity of the ships (if Type062, Type026 or auxiliary patrol boats (ex-trawlers)).
Photo of sister-ship frigate HQ-02 of the South Vietnam Navy (ship fled to Philippines in 1975), HQ-01 was former South Vietnamese HQ-15, ex-USS Absecon. Her single 127mm gun (in addition to one mortar and machineguns) made her the most powerful warship in terms of fire-power that the Vietnam Navy dispatched in Cambodia. HQ-03 (former South Vietnamese HQ-04) was of different class and armed with two 76mm guns.

Currently there is no detailed Vietnamese account of all the Kampuchean vessels found in harbor by advancing troops or the ones scuttled in harbor to avoid capture, while these losses appears to be heavy the lack of a detailed list make impossible to figure out details of the Battle of Ream and the clash on 10/January.


8 January 1979
Reports concerning the seizure of three Vietnamese patrol boats (24 alleged POW) captured by a Chinese landing ship supported by an armed barge (on unclear date) are currently unconfirmed.
This event can be related with the contact between Vietnamese patrol boats and a Chinese motor barge (40 tons) entering Vietnamese waters and soon joined by two Chinese warship: this event however, reported by Soviet sources on 8 January, led to no seizures or losses.

End of February 1979
Vietnamese patrol boat n°17 (or T-17? Unclear class) shelled, damaged and seized a Chinese fishing junk (4 POWs).

14 March 1988
Battle of Truong Sa Islands (Vietnamese name)
Spratley Archipelago include islands contested by different nations, including China and Vietnam (the dispute is still unsolved).
Growing tensions in 1988 culminated in Vietnamese operations that involved the landing ship HQ-505 and the armed transport HQ-604 and HQ-605.
Chinese units were more powerful: frigates Nanchong (065 class), Xiangtan (053H1 class) and Yingtan (053K class).
The conflict included hand-to-hand clashes between marines over contested flags on the reefs, resulting in the naval fight with overwhelming Chinese superiority.
Frigate Nanchong shelled and sunk HQ-604, a couple of hours later Xiangtan sunk the HQ-605.
Finally frigate Yingtan focused her fire on the transport ship HQ-505, that retreated after suffering damages even if Vietnamese sources state the ship was intentionally grounded to prevent a Chinese landing. After the battle, Vietnamese tried to recover HQ-505 but she sunk before reaching the port.
Details of the battle are disputed todays. Vietnamese claims that many of their victims (64 killed) occurred when Chinese warships strafed the marines on the reef. Chinese reported just one wounded. As consequence of this engagement, China took control of the reef.

Photo of Chinese frigate Yingtan (leadship of the 053 family series), now preserved as museum

After the involvement of Vietnam (with Soviet backing) to overthrown the genocidal extremist regime of Khmer Rogues in Cambodia and the institution of a new communist government, United States used the local proxy kingdom of Thailand to back a loose alliance of anti-communist resistance composed by the same Khmer Rogues allied with Royalists and Nationalists.
There is little to no knowledge over naval fighting during the conflict; however, a growing piracy from Thais built up with loose tolerance from Thai authorities. Pirates (often disguising as fishing-boats) attacked Vietnamese and Cambodian own fishing boats and a number of seizures and anti-piracy operations reported. The peak of this conflict occurred when Pirates begun to systematically attack boats carrying Vietnamese civilian defectors: rather than finding the marvels of capitalist societies, these “boats-people” often saw their own means stolen by pirates, with widespread raping and mass-murdering. The brutality of such actions pushed the same Thai government to restrain the pirates and suppress them, until this bloody chapter of naval history in Far East ended with the Vietnamese retreat from Cambodia.

December 1983
On unclear day, Vietnamese patrol boats attacked a group of ten Thai fishing trawlers/pirates, seizing five trawlers (130 men captured).
There are scarce details over this report, but appears there were other similar incidents all ended with the release of the crafts after fines.

Late May – Early June 1984
Unidentified Vietnamese patrol boats attacked multiple Thai fishing boat/pirates on different incidents, causing 3 killed.

8 January 1985
Vietnamese auxiliary patrol boats reportedly attacked a group of four fishing boats manned by Thai nationals, killing 1 and wounding 7 and impounding the fished catch.
While there are scant details, it appears the Vietnamese intentionally placed armed guards and men on fishing boats to lure the Thai pirates (often fishermen themselves who “made an extra” assaulting Vietnamese fishing boats).

So far, Modern Anti-Piracy Operations saw mostly actions carried on by the independent Vietnamese Coast Guard. Interestingly, such actions included the first-ever communist naval action against 21st century pirates in history (Chinese ships operating in Somalia scored successes only in 2017).

22 November 2012
Vietnamese Coast guard patrol boats CSB-4041 and CSB-4031 sailed alongside the tug CSB-9001 to intercept the Malay tanker MT Zafirah (496 GRT)(cargo: 300tons of light crude oil) seized by 11 Indonesian pirates. Pirates re-named the ship “MT Sea Horse” while manning her, while the original crew has been disembarked. The Vietnamese units successfully intercepted and blocked the ship opening fire with light weapons and 12.7mm until CSB-4031 seized the ship and captured the pirates.

Photo of CSB-4031, possessing also a Soviet-designed 25mm gun (covered in photo).

2 October 2014
The Vietnamese tanker Sunrise-689 (4080 GRT) (cargo: 5220tons of oil) was seized by pirates nearby Singapore, with some damages inflicted to the vessels. 2 sailors were wounded and Pirates successfully unloaded 2000tones of oil before releasing the vessel on 9 October 2014. Vietnamese coast guard boats CSB-2001 and CSB-2004 found the tanker and rescued the crew, but they had failed to capture the pirates and prevent the thief of cargo.

19 June 2015
Malay tanker MT Orkin Harmony (5081 GRT) (cargo: 6000 tons of petrol) has been seized by 8 Indonesian pirates (they temporarely renamed the ship “MT Kim Harmon”). Chased by Malay ships, the pirates fled the vessel on a motorboat only to be intercepted and captured by the Vietnamese coast guard patrol boats CSB-2002 and CSB-2004. Pirates were deteined before extradition.
Soviet cogitations: 318
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 06 Jan 2018, 13:40
Greetings! it was a typo mistake because it was obviously the same month, also confirmed by US sources (War in the Shallows: U.S. Navy Coastal and Riverine Warfare in Vietnam, 1965-1968, author: John Darrell Sherwood, page 251). As extra note I have finally found proper Vietnamese description off the event of 1 March.

PS: Edited the page with assigned identities of the ship lost on 1 March 1968
Soviet cogitations: 70
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 15 May 2016, 15:31
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Post 10 Mar 2018, 00:19
1988: Johnson South Reef Skirmish

On 14 March 1988, a naval battle was fought between the Vietnam People's Navy and the People's Liberation Army Navy within the Spratly Islands. The battle saw at least 64 Vietnamese soldiers killed, and resulted in Chinese control over the Johnson South Reef. Five other reefs in the Spratly Islands were also occupied by China in the same year.
Soviet cogitations: 318
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 11 Mar 2018, 13:03
George1 wrote:
1988: Johnson South Reef Skirmish

On 14 March 1988, a naval battle was fought between the Vietnam People's Navy and the People's Liberation Army Navy within the Spratly Islands. The battle saw at least 64 Vietnamese soldiers killed, and resulted in Chinese control over the Johnson South Reef. Five other reefs in the Spratly Islands were also occupied by China in the same year.

Greetings! I am aware of the battle, but It was already covered in the section for Chinese Naval Battles ^^
I could simply make a copy of the text, or just a short version with direct link.
However future updates for this page will include anti-piracy operations
Soviet cogitations: 318
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 25 Aug 2018, 14:50
* Inserted data of conflict with Frence. Including sinking achieved with mines, and two auxiliary patrol boats seized in direct action!
* Inserted ALL the conventional warships of the North Vietnamese Navy sunk or damaged in action during Vietnam War
(downplaying of the early American anti-ship raid in 5/Aug/64 but other losses reported in the later years off war).
* Heavy downplaying of South Vietnamese/American sources of successes for PTF boats
* Inserted a couple of extra blockade-runners losses unknown to the west.
* Refined details of identification of North Vietnamese units in all clashes, including 1975.
* All the major South Vietnamese ship losses due enemy action fixed: all confirmed victims of cover spec-op by North Vietnamese commandos with limpet mines.
Soviet cogitations: 318
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 09 Dec 2018, 11:51
1) Reworked intro and added main sources
2) Interesting re-evaluation for action of 23/Oct/51 potentially placing a Vietnamese unit as the individual most successful surface communist warship by sheer number of victories.
3) Stressed a detail for Battle of Dong Hai, disproving an American myth of partecipation of missile boats.
4) Inserted all combat during the 1979 war in Cambodia (including the Battle of Ream): essentially a copy of text from viewtopic.php?f=149&t=55168
5) Inserted Vietnamese name for the Battle of Spratley archipelago (Chinese page use Chinese name)
6) Added section of '80s Thai Piracy
7) Added section of modern anti-piracy operations

((January 2019)) Extra Updates.
1) Inserted a couple of events in 1946, including a massacre committed by French Navy
2) Victory achieved on USNS Card no more marked in bold text (despite the propaganda result, actual damage was very temporary).
3) Added NLF frogmen successes on major cargo/tankers: full-victories (totall-loss sinking) occurred on 26/May/66; 23/Aug/66; 9/Jan/67.
Damage inflicted but ships recovered on: 12/April/67; 22/Dec/68; 10/Jul/72;

((May 2019))
1) Extra limpet mine attack (damaged ship) on 1 November 1968
Soviet cogitations: 318
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 12 Jul 2020, 15:06
1) Added a big source at beginning of the text.
2) The "Battle of Hong Hai" was eliminated as entry considering that Vietnamese sources put the loss of French boats "Crayssac" and "L’Audacieuse" on separate days. Moreover according Vietnamese version the second boat didn't sunk at all and was rather captured. Both encounters enriched with details.
3) Added more details to the shelling of Haiphong by French Navy
4) POSSIBLE anti-aircraft naval victory on 31/March/65 (more likely ground AA)
5) CONFIRMED anti-aircraft naval victory on 17/Sept/65
6) POSSIBLE anti-aircraft naval victory on 26/Oct/65 (no direct Viet. claim but seems likely)
7) POSSIBLE anti-aircraft naval victory on 27/Apr/66 (either ground AA or self-defensive fire from targets)
8 ) CONFIRMED anti-aircraft naval victory on 29/Apr/66 (Americans believe a crash, but match very well with Viet. operations and claim in same area)
9) More details over the loss of 3 VPN motor torpedo boats on 1/July/66 they attempted to approach US Warships
10) Added Viet. claims of anti-aircraft victories on 7/Jul/66 but without US losses that can be connected.
11) CONFIRMED anti-aircraft naval victory on 14/Jul/67 (officially Americans indicate during an attack on water crafts, It was most likely shot down after attacking damaged units of the VPN).
12) POSSIBLE anti-aircraft naval victory on 2/Nov/67 (there is no clear Viet description of the "ferry" attacked, could have been defensive fire or ground AA)
13) CONFIRMED anti-aircraft naval victory on 16/Apr/72 (direct VPN claim, but also with partecipation of ground AA)
14) POSSIBLE anti-aircraft naval victory on 19/Dec/72 (shot down while attacking ships, no direct VPN claim even if interestingly on the same day VPN lost a missile boat. Unclear if the two episodes matched)
15) Added two (still vague and not much details) episodes for '80s anti-piracy/"fishermen"

NOTE: quite interestingly, while American veterans organization made great works to list all missing personal during Vietnam War, it seems little work was done in attempting a simple comparison and matching of sources with the Vietnamese side: some of the above-mentioned air losses included pilots described as "MIA" or "KIA-body not recovered", while there is basis on Vietnamese sources to research them: in some cases aircrafts shot down in coastal areas simply crashed on sea and Vietnamese reported no parachutes or prisoners (To now, 2020, no US aircraft shot down by VPN vessels include reports of airmen captured).
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